The Xbox 360 has more than 1000 games at this point, and picking out the very best must own titles is tough. We've selected our ten favorites and can confidently say if you don't already own any of them, they're worth picking up.
2K Games / Take-Two Interactive
Despite having two sequels in the series come out over the last 5 years, the original BioShock is still the best game in the franchise, but also our pick for the best Xbox 360 game overall. The first time you descend into the underwater city of Rapture is one of the most amazing gaming moments ever, and the game only gets better and more interesting from there. It perfectly nails the atmosphere and intensity of a creaky, leaky underwater city filled with creepy enemies and is one of the most memorable experiences gaming has seen yet.
This spot could arguably belong to the entire Mass Effect series - really, you should play all three of them - but the best of the three games is definitely Mass Effect 2. It features a large cast of likable characters, tells a great story, and has really fun third-person-shooter gameplay all set in a wonderfully realized sci-fi universe. Mass Effect 2 is simply outstanding all around.
Without a doubt, Red Dead Redemption is the best Western-themed game ever. No other game gets the setting and tone of the old West as completely perfectly as RDR does. RDR tells a wonderful story, with a great ending, but the best part of the experience is the freedom you have to do whatever you want. You have a huge world to explore that ranges from snowy mountains to rolling plains to deserts and there is a ton of stuff to do. Red Dead Redemption also offers some of the finest graphics and music you'll find in any game today. Fans of the old West will love it.
Halo: Reach is the best Halo game. There, I said it. Halo 4 beats it on graphics (pretty easily) but Halo: Reach has the best story, most interesting setting, and most varied gameplay in the entire series. It was developer Bungie's last Halo game, and really feels like a lot of love and attention went into making it the best it could possibly be.
Fallout 3 is an action-RPG that takes place in the wasteland around Washington D.C. after a nuclear war in the future. The wasteland is filled with monsters, zombies, and enemy humans just trying to survive - which means they pretty much all want to kill you. The tone of the game is like a 1950's sci-fi serial, so it is campy and interesting and fun. You are free to explore anything and everywhere you want, and some of the coolest stuff in the game is hidden away from the beaten path and you really have to work to find it. Personally, I love everything about Fallout 3 and it is by far my most played Xbox 360 game. The sequel, Fallout: New Vegas, is also very good (and has better gameplay) but the setting in Fallout 3 is far superior, which puts it on top.
The best simulation racer of the PS3 / Xbox 360 generation is Forza Motorsport 4. Offering great graphics, the best sound in the business, a ton of cars and tracks, and the best visual customization around, Forza 4 is simply incredible. Despite being a sim racer, it is also surprisingly accessible and offers a ton of difficulty settings and driving aids to help more casual players enjoy the game. There are hundreds of events to complete as well, which will keep you busy for months.
The Gears of War series is four games strong, exclusively on the Xbox 360, and the best of the bunch (they're all good, though) is Gears of War 3. With a great campaign, tons of multiplayer modes that all let you use bots if you don't want to play online, along with some of the best co-op play around make Gears 3 a must play for shooter fans.
The best JRPG of the PS3 / Xbox 360 generation is, without a doubt, Tales of Vesperia. It tells a fantastic story. The cast is great. And the action-RPG combat is incredibly fun and surprisingly varied depending on what character you're playing as. The presentation is also really great with excellent graphics and some of the absolute best music of any game on Xbox 360.
Portal 2 is one of the most clever and funny and just plain interesting games to play ever made. The puzzle solving gameplay, played in a first-person-perspective, will really test your critical thinking ability, and when you solve a tough puzzle it is ridiculously satisfying. The story is funny as heck, too, with a lot of crazy stuff going on, but it is always centered around the fascinating portal gameplay mechanic. It is just an incredibly well put together game all around. It even has a great co-op campaign separate from the story that is worth playing as well.
10. Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise
One of the most fun and unique games on the Xbox 360, or any system, really, is the Viva Pinata series. These games have you building a garden to attract pinata versions of animals, and the strategy of attracting specific species and later trying to romance them to produce more, is some of the deepest and most interesting gameplay around. I'll admit, it seems weird and sort of dumb, but when you actually play it it is amazingly addictive and wonderful. The graphics are also absolutely incredible and filled with bright colors, which always helps. The original Viva Pinata is good, but the sequel, Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, trumps it in pretty much every way.